Intellectual Ventures Quick Hits

March 4, 2010
Since Steve Lohr’s New York Times critique on Intellectual Ventures, last month the blogosphere has lit up with discussion about back door schemes to file or threaten to file patent lawsuits. Revelations of IV’s skyrocketing lobbying expenses and political contributions as well as new strategy of licensing patents to lawsuit-happy NPEs have prompted a flurry of anti-IV sentiment.

What follows is a guide to the various articles posted since the February 18 NYT article:

  • Tech Crunch: Mike Masnick focuses on the revelation that IV has over 1100 shell companies, noting “No wonder IV can pretend it doesn’t sue anyone. It can simply hide behind its shell companies.”
  • Tech Flash: Todd Bishop discusses Nathan Myhrvold’s desperate attempt to combat the NYT article and save face in the court of public opinion.
  • Seattle Weekly: Brian Miller compares the NYT article with Nathan Myhrvold’s long-winded response in Harvard Business Journal.
  • Union Square Ventures: Venture capitalist Brad Burnham provides a point-by-point rebuttal of Myhrvold’s justification for his business model.
  • The Faster Times: Fred Wilson endorses Brad Burnhams views for why Myhrvold’s views on the patent system are wrong.
  • Enterprise Irregulars: An anonymous patent infringement attorney, who has been the victim of NPEs: “IV has collected over a billion dollars so that it can get more patents. They make no products. They apparently don’t funnel ideas to anyone else who makes products. Heck, the only useful thing I’ve seen out of IV is that mosquito-killing laser that Mr. Myhrvold showed off at TED this year.”
  • Against Monopoly: John Bennet concludes that “It doesn’t sound to me like Myhrvold has much interest in the poor inventors. Rather, he just seems to want their patents so he can make piles of money suing manufacturers.”
  • Boycott Novell: “Having had some direct experience with Myhrvold’s group (and hence my desire to remain anonymous), I suggest the following. “’Patent troll’ is too simplistic and limiting. Think of IV as a combination mob protection racket + ponzi monetization scheme.”
  • The Economist: This editorial takes a very skeptical view of Myhrvold’s defense, noting “Mr. Myhrvold may find that the suspicions against him of patent-trollery have a long half-life.”
  • Tech Dirt: Mike Masnick again posts on Intellectual Ventures, referencing the Enterprise Irregulars post to back up his anti-IV stance.
  • Dow Jones: Stuart Weinberg reveals IV’s recent licensing of patents to firms located in Marshall, TX, a haven for patent infringement lawsuits: “If IV is selling patents to more aggressive third parties, the strategy has merit, said Tom Ewing, principal consultant for Avancept, an intellectual-property consulting firm. For one, IV generates revenue from the sales. Second, if IV retains a stake in the patents, it can generate additional revenue. Third, and most important, the third parties can serve as “surrogates” to pressure potential IV licensees.”
  • Zusha Elinson notes that Verizon has sued TiVo regarding one of IV’s patents.
  • Tech Flash: Eric Engleman also discusses the Verizon-TiVo battle.
  • Wall Street Journal: Don Clark goes in-depth regarding IV decision to start selling patents to firms willing to file patent infringement lawsuits: “Merino says some such sales deals have a ‘back end.’ In other words, his firm can receive some revenue generated by the company that buys its patents, whether through a lawsuit or some other means. But IV does not control what the buyer does with them.”

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